They Read Blogs

When BlueOregon got started, in the second flush of blogging, a central goal was to become "the watercooler around which Oregon's progressives gather to discuss news and politics."  The great promise of blogs was that they would expand the discussion to include people who normally weren't able to join the conversation. 

Well, as it turns out, those people have pretty big ears in Washington, as the Oregonian described today

The open, free-for-all nature of the Internet and blogs contrasts starkly with the traditional and clubby Congress, where members are accustomed to one-way communication on their own terms. But Congress is changing. Members of the Oregon delegation, like most of their congressional cohorts, monitor bloggers to varying degrees. The chief of staff to Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., posted a response to blog criticism. Others, including Reps. Greg Walden, R-Ore., and Darlene Hooley, D-Ore., pay attention to blogs but do not post on them.

"So much of what happens in this business, you are actually insulated from people's reactions," said Blumenauer. "You're in structured meetings on particular subjects. I have found that this is an extraordinarily interesting way to have interaction."

Politicians recognize that blogs don't represent large groups of constituents, but they see them as important places to hear what's in the political wind:

Internet experts say the size of a blog's audience isn't as important as its influence.

"The people who read political blogs are very much into politics," said Lee Rainie, director of the Pew Internet and American Life Project. "They have an elite profile to begin with, and they're influencers. They organize petition drives and campaign events and spread the word about activities. There's a multiplier effect in talking to hard-core political blog readers."

And apparently, it's not just positive feedback politicians listen to--they want to hear what the people are saying:

Blumenauer said he reads both the positive and, well, not-so-positive blog entries about himself.

"I have been flamed on occasion where people just have some scathing entries," he said. "It's pretty unvarnished. It's real time reaction."

So keep talking, BlueOregonians--Congress is listening.

  • Herb (unverified)

    I would hazzard to guess that the question of if a Politician reads a blog or not when asked would probably be answered with a Yes regardless if they did or not. I am not so sure though that is the case if you look at the actions of political figures compared with the Blogs, posts, and comments of the Blogosphere.

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